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The RetroBeat: This Sonic the Hedgehog speedrun at Games Done Quick makes life better

Awesome Games Done Quick is amid its annual speedrunning marathon. The event, which will go until Sunday night, has people playing through games as fast as possible (known as a speedrun), all while those watching can donate money to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. You can watch it live on Twitch.

In 2018, AGDQ raised over $2.2 million. I watch the event — and its summer equivalent, Summer Games Done Quick — every year. And this AGDQ had one of my new favorite speedruns ever, which you can watch below.

The run features Dr. Fatbody playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog. He’s running a category called “any% glitched”, which means he can take advantage of any in-game bugs he wants as long as he beats it. Now, the speedrun is a great show of skill. He doesn’t beat a world record or anything, but Dr. Fatbody goes through Sonic 1 faster than normal players could imagine was possible, beating the whole thing in just over 20 minutes.

But the showcase of skill is not why I love this speedrun. At least it’s not the major reason. Dr. Fatbody is just a joy to watch play. Speedrunners can often be quiet. That’s understandable. This skill takes a lot of concentration. And doing it in front of a live audience and on a stream where over 100,000 people are watching must be intimidating.

Dr. Fatbody was anything but quiet. While most speedrunners will ask the audience to be quiet while going through particularly difficult sections, he encouraged the audience to get loud. He’s excited to be there. He’s having fun. And it’s infectious.

The run also features a surprising amount of love! Dr. Fatbody makes references to his brother are just adorable, and the whole thing even ends with a fantastic group hug.

The speedrun has everything. Sonic the Hedgehog itself is a classic. It’s one of the best 2D games ever. I could have a good time watching just about anyone play it. But then I get to watch an expert go through sidescroller and show off cool tricks and glitches, all while he explains how they work.

The energy of Dr. Fatbody (and yes, his name also amuses me) is what makes the run so special. The video showcases everything that makes speedrunning great.

If you want to send a donation to Awesome Games Done Quick for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, you can do so here.

The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.

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